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Argos Trade 2023 First-Round Pick To Lions For Most Outstanding Rookie Linebacker Jordan Williams

The Argos have pulled off a stunning move just days before the start of free agency. In what could signal a changing of the guard. Toronto is reportedly sending their 2023 first-round pick to B.C. in exchange for 2021 first-overall selection linebacker Jordan Williams.

Argos Pull Off Stunning Trade For Canadian Linebacker Jordan Williams

Justin Dunk from 3DownNation reported the trade late Wednesday night.

The Toronto Argonauts football club has now officially announced their trade for Jordan Williams.


TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today the team has traded their first round pick (ninth overall) in the 2023 CFL Draft to the B.C. Lions for Canadian LB Jordan Williams.

Williams, 28, was selected first overall during the 2020 CFL Draft and lived up to the hype from day one, setting a new Canadian Football League record for defensive tackles in a season by a Canadian rookie with 92 in just 14 games and capturing the 2021 Most Outstanding Rookie Award. The 6’0, 232lb linebacker who attended the University of East Carolina followed up his rookie campaign with a stellar sophomore season, totaling 89 defensive tackles, seven special teams tackles and three forced fumbles for the Leos in 2022 as they reached the Western Final. Over the course of four years at East Carolina (2014-2017), Williams played 45 games and recorded 252 tackles, 13 for loss, three sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

A Stunning Turn Of Events In Toronto

The trade is a stunning one. Particuarly on the Argos side of things. Because the Boatmen have re-signed weakside linebacker Wynton McManis and have been in negotiations with the Grey Cup MOP linebacker Henoc Muamba for a 2023 return.

Perhaps the latter can still occur. But the aggressive play for Jordan Williams, who has the ability to play outside and middle linebacker, the latter being Muamba’s position, creates a cloud of uncertainty.

What’s not uncertain, though, is that Williams, the East Carolina standout with Canadian heritage due to his mother, was highly coveted by CFL teams in the draft process three years ago—despite losing a draft year due to the pandemic canceled 2020 season.

The Boatmen just missed the boat on drafting him as Williams was selected one pick ahead of them by the Lions in the 2020 CFL Draft. Toronto drafted WR Dejon Brissett instead at number two overall.

The five-foot-11, 219-pound Williams shined at that year’s combine, the CFL’s final, due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. He recorded a 40-yard dash time of 4.48 seconds, 20 reps in the 225-pound bench press, a 39-inch vertical jump, and a broad jump of 10 feet, 8.5 inches.

Williams’ great physical tools showed up in his first year in the CFL. He made up for the lost time in 2021 by registering 92 tackles, setting a new Canadian record, eclipsing Mike O’Shea’s total of 75 he set with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 1993 season. Williams’ efforts earned him the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie honours.

In Williams’ sophomore season with the Lions, he amassed a team-best 89 tackles to go along with a trio of forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries in 18 games. 

TSN’s Farhan Lalji is reporting that the Most Outstanding Canadian rookie in 2021, Williams requested the trade as it brings him to the east and closer to some business interests in the United States. Lalji also added that it is unlikely the Lions could have retained Williams after his rookie deal ended following the 2023 season. So the request, along with that knowledge, prompted dealing away one of B.C.’s best defensive players.

Jordan Williams Trade Fallout

Henoc Muamba Toronto Argonauts 6nov2021 Photo Scott Grant

There’s no questioning the value of Jordan Williams as a player. He has every-down tools as a linebacker who can play multiple positions. Williams is athletic enough to play the Sam linebacker position if needed, which is essentially an extension of the secondary. He can play a hybrid role in Corey Mace’s defence. Similar to the one Dexter McCoil played for the Boatmen two seasons ago.

However, there’s the rub. The acquisition of Williams creates a strong likelihood that team leader Henoc Muamba or the ultra-talented Chris Edwards could both have played their last days in Double Blue.

The fact that he has Canadian status only makes him that more valuable in the long term. Provided that the Argos re-sign or extend him beyond 2023. Which seems likely. The Jordan Williams trade has clearly been made with the future in mind. Because beyond the uncertainty of Muamba and Chris Edwards’s return. There is the fact that defensive player of the year candidate, Wynton McManis, is only signed for the 2023 season.

After all, even if Muamba were to return. It would likely be for only one more season. And there’s no guarantee that McManis doesn’t continue to explore options south of Canada a year from now. So this move by the Grey Cup Champion Argonauts for Jordan Williams is more about 2024 and beyond than 2023.

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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